I live in the mountains of northern California. In early 2018, my sister, Kathy, moved one hour south of me at at a lower elevation. Prior to moving, Kathy had fought cancer for several years. She followed her own instincts in treating it. In January, 2018, she opted for chemotherapy.
Following is an excerpt from my journal at this time.
Angels meet and greet. Glances exchanged, hearts engaged, hands touch–sisters–when the end is near, the truth becomes clearer. I couldn’t drive her to her first chemo appointment. It was yesterday. It was rescheduled from last week. Last week, I had a good excuse–a big snowstorm. My sister, lymphedema in her right arm–swollen beyond recognition. A warrioress with literal wounds. A bandage is swathed under her arm and across her chest. This wound that hasn’t healed–the bandages need to be changed daily.
My word today is truth. Her word is courage.
I told her that I couldn’t drive her because I couldn’t sit there beside her in the hospital as she underwent this intravenous process. I wouldn’t have been the best support. She thanked me for telling her my truth. If we can’t be straight with one another now, when?
She got her hair cut short. She asked me to knit her a hat, which I began working on immediately. I painted her a picture of a woman surrounded by butterflies. I think that she’s going to make it. We need optimism. Truth is, I don’t know very much. The mystery is here, is in us, is around us, is us. Nature helps. I send her daily photos of the nature where I live to calm and center her. To support her with beauty.
Truth is, some days I think that she’s doing better than me. Truth is, love is a strange animal–she is always showing up at odd times, giving us opportunities.
Like that night I sat on a log beside my driveway, stargazing. It was so peaceful, I shut my eyes. A visiting cat sat beside me. Out of the shrubbery beside me, a rustle. Opening my eyes, I see a creature emerging. I can’t name it immediately. And then,
Skunk. A few feet apart, we stare at one another. Neither of us felt threatened. I watched him waddle away. Truth is, it felt like love. Does recognition equal love?
Truth as an expression of love. I love you enough to tell you the truth. Is there something that stands in the way of truth? At least, I can try telling it to myself. When my parents were in their declining years and the family was in chaos, I began a poem with this line:
“Truth lies in a shallow grave
while perspectives hang out everywhere…”